The Taiwanese Ministry of Education is offering courses to promote gender equality after a survey revealed that gay students are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

The research conducted by the education department found that almost 13 percent of homosexual college students are suffering from severe depression and are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

Ko Hui-chen, a member of the ministry’s student affairs committee, and a group of graduate school students developed a questionnaire and conducted the survey on over 4,900 college and university students across Taiwan, with 1,353 valid samples collected from male students and 1,303 from females.

She noted that homosexual students are more emotionally disturbed than heterosexuals and their self-evaluations are more likely to be negative because they tend to experience greater pressures due to their love life.

Another finding was that people close to homosexuals, such as family members and friends, and even homosexuals themselves, are less likely to accept their own sexuality than heterosexuals.

Ko said the Ministry of Education was trying to create a more tolerant campus environment by offering more courses and extracurricular activities to promote gender equality in hopes that faculty members and students will not hang on to biases, stereotypes or discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The ministry will also devote more resources to helping students, parents and faculties better understand the pressures faced by homosexual students and the difficulties they may have in adapting.

Of the total, 2,220 or 83.6 percent, said they are “absolutely heterosexual;” 264 or 9.9 percent said they are “heterosexual most of the time;” and 54 or two percent responded they are “bisexual.”

Those who claimed they are “homosexual most of the time” numbered only 16, or 0.6 percent of all respondents, with 19 or 0.7 percent saying they were “absolutely homosexual or lesbian, ” and 39 or 1.5 percent uncertain about their sexual orientation.

Ko said after analysing the results, her team found that homosexuals are much more likely to feel depressed or attempt suicide, with 12.9 percent of homosexuals responding they were deeply depressed, compared to 4.8 percent of heterosexuals.

She suggested that homosexual students learn to be more independent and persevering so they will not be easily discouraged by other people’s disapproval or negative attitudes.

Besides advising homosexuals not to deny their orientation, she also recommended they seek professional assistance to overcome any tendency toward depression.

Comared to its Asian neighbours Taiwan has a more positive stance towards the gay community, it has previously backed same sex unions.